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Diabetes was until recently a disease of adults, however, obesity and sedentary lifestyle, among other causes, have led to childhood diabetes being the second most common chronic disease in children.
The number of children who suffer from this disease is alarming. For example, in Spain it is estimated that there are approximately 30,000 cases of diabetes in children under 15 years of age. Let's see a little more in detail what are the symptoms of childhood diabetes, what is the diagnosis. In addition, we talk about some hopeful research that raises an alternative therapy to treat childhood diabetes using stem cells from the umbilical cord of newborn babies.
1. Types of diabetes
There are two types of diabetes, which can affect children too: type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
- Type 1 diabetes It is characterized by the lack of insulin production and, as a consequence, there is an increase in blood glucose or glycemia. According to several studies, this type of diabetes is easy to avoid if the child performs sports on a regular basis, eats healthy and varied and avoids a sedentary lifestyle, for example, trying not to spend many hours in front of a computer or mobile screen.
- Type 2 diabetes It is hereditary and occurs when cells resist the action of insulin, the hormone that causes glucose to enter cells and give them energy. If there is no insulin, there will be excess glucose in the blood.
2. Symptoms and diagnosis of diabetes
To find out if a child has type 1 diabetes, you have to do a fasting test to measure glucose levels in the blood. For type 2 diabetes, an oral glucose tolerance test will be done, which measures glucose in the blood and urine before and after drinking a sugar solution. However, there are a series of symptoms which may indicate that the child suffers from diabetes such as intense thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, vomiting, abdominal pain, tiredness, weakness and blurred vision.
3. Treatment of diabetes
As for the treatment to follow, it will vary according to the type of diabetes. For type 1, treatment goes through the daily insulin injections with personalized doses according to each case, also carrying out a rigorous control of the level of glucose in the blood.
For type 2 diabetes, it will be necessary to control the disease by monitoring the glucose level in the blood, following a proper diet and playing sports on a regular basis.
4. Prevention of diabetes
As we said at the beginning, type 2 diabetes is hereditary, so it is very difficult to avoid it, not so in relation to type 1 diabetes, caused mainly by childhood obesity and lack of exercise.
Follow a healthy diet, balanced, varied and low in sugar (refined, brown, crystal and honey sugar should be avoided in particular), taking instead the sugar naturally present in pasta and fruits, as well as doing sports on a regular basis and, therefore, avoiding sedentary life gives great results to avoid this type of disease.
This is a question that more and more parents are asking. The answer, according to recent scientific studies, comes from the hand ofstem cells. Stem cells can become insulin producers and thus control blood sugar, according to data released by the team of researchers from Washington University in St. Louis (USA).
Science has been trying for some time to know if stem cells extracted from the umbilical cord blood of the newborn it can regulate the sugar levels of patients with diabetes. The beta cells they had worked with up to this point were capable of secreting insulin, but not in the right amount or time. However, with the new advance, this team of researchers has found the solution to make these cells secrete the exact insulin that corresponds to glucose levels.
This is how Herrera, another researcher focused on the study of stem cells to treat diabetes, explains: “the adult mouse pancreas has the ability to partially regenerate beta cells (insulin-producing) after having lost them almost completely (as in a diabetic child). This in itself is surprising”.
The research is still in an initial phase, but it should be noted that scientists are optimistic about the results obtained, which offer the possibility of a safe and effective treatment for childhood diabetes.
You can read more articles similar to A promising alternative therapy for treating childhood diabetes, in the Diabetes category on site.